Technical personnel work at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC) in Beijing, capital of China, Nov. 30, 2020. (BACC/Handout via Xinhua)
BEIJING, Dec. 17 (Xinhua) -- The Chang'e-5 probe, comprising an orbiter, a lander, an ascender and a returner, has brought back China's first samples collected from the moon. It is one of the most complicated and challenging missions in the country's aerospace history. Here is a timeline of the mission:
-- Nov. 24: Chang'e-5 probe was launched by a Long March-5 rocket from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on the coast of southern island province of Hainan.
-- Nov. 28: After two orbital corrections, Chang'e-5 probe decelerated and entered the lunar orbit.
Photo provided by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) shows an image taken by the panoramic camera aboard the lander-ascender combination of Chang'e-5 spacecraft after landing on the moon, on Dec. 2, 2020. (CNSA/Handout via Xinhua)
-- Dec. 1: After the lander-ascender combination separated from the orbiter-returner combination, the lander-ascender combination of Chang'e-5 successfully landed on the near side of the moon and started sampling.
Photo provided by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) shows Chang'e-5 probe gathering samples on the moon on Dec. 2, 2020. (CNSA/Handout via Xinhua)
Within two days, the probe drilled into ground and grabbed samples at different sites on the surface of the moon. China's national flag was unfurled from the Chang'e-5 probe on the moon.
Photo taken at Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC) in Beijing on Dec. 3, 2020 shows the ascender of Chang'e-5 spacecraft blasting off from the lunar surface. (CNSA/Handout via Xinhua)
-- Dec.3: The ascender of Chang'e-5 took off from the lunar surface and entered the preset lunar orbit.
Technical personnel monitor the transfer of samples collected on the moon from the ascender to the returner of China's Chang'e-5 probe at Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 6, 2020. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)
-- Dec. 6: The ascender of Chang'e-5 probe successfully rendezvoused and docked with the orbiter-returner combination in lunar orbit, and transferred the samples to the returner.
-- Dec. 13: After conducting orbital maneuver twice, the orbiter-returner entered the moon-Earth transfer orbit. It completed two orbital correction en route to Earth.
-- Dec. 17: The returner of Chang'e-5 probe separated from the orbiter and returned to Earth. It landed in Siziwang Banner, north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. ■